FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2023
AUSTIN, TX — Senate Bill 409 has been filed by Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, which if passed into law, will further empower victims of sexual assault and ensure their sensitive and fair treatment in the criminal justice system.
An act of sexual violence can devastate and often derail someone’s life. Victims can face immediate and direct negative impact such as injury, physical trauma, or even death. It can also lead indirectly to a variety of effects on physical and mental health and well-being. In fact, victims are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, even years after the assault took place, than non-assaulted individuals.
While victims are afforded a number of rights under Texas law, sexual assault remains one of the most underreported crimes in the state. Less than 5% of rape victims ever report their assault to law enforcement, and even less see their offender prosecuted and convicted. Reporting sexual assault requires incredible courage, but all too often, brave survivors are blocked from moving forward with their cases when they encounter institutional barriers and lacking engagement from prosecutors. A recent report by the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at UT Austin stated that a survivor’s negative experience with a governmental institution had profound effects on their ability to participate in the criminal justice system, access services, and heal from sexual violence.
SB 409 will create minimal rules of engagement for prosecutors’ offices in an effort to facilitate a better experience for the victim within the criminal justice system. The bill clarifies and strengthens the Constitutional rights of crime victims without hindering prosecutor discretion or creating unworkable penalties.
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“Survivors of sexual assault must be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. If SB 409 is passed, Texas will reaffirm its commitment to support every sexual assault survivor and hold their perpetrators accountable. I look forward to working with State Representative Jeff Leach and getting this bill to Governor Abbott’s desk.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, you are not alone and there are many resources available that can help and offer support for survivors. Call the 24/7 Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) to be routed to a service provider near you.”
If passed and signed by the Governor, this bill will take effect September 1, 2023.